In the beginning...
The first people in the US to suggest using sign language with hearing infants and toddlers were Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn (cocreators of Baby Signs), and Joseph Garcia (creator of Sign With Your Baby).
Beginning in 1982, psychologists Acredolo and Goodwyn carried out two decades of research into the practice of signing with hearing babies. In 1996 they coauthored the book Baby Signs. In 2003, they founded Baby Signs Inc, which today provides workshops for parents, and signing play sessions for babies.
Garcia - having worked as an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter throughout the 1970s - began researching the role of sign language in early childhood language acquisition in 1986. In 1999, he published his Sign With Your Baby Complete Learning Kit, a set of printed and video materials for parents wishing to teach and learn ASL from home.
Both Acredolo and Goodwyn, and Garcia were struck by the fact that babies could communicate much earlier through sign than through speech. Acredolo and Goodwyn discovered this when Acredolo noticed her 12-month-old daughter using symbolic gestures to communicate. Garcia, through his work as an ASL interpreter, noticed that hearing children of deaf parents would communicate through sign language before they had learned to speak - and as a result, could communicate earlier than hearing children of parents who did not use sign language.